Mid-year review held

Published 2:21 pm Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Prince Edward County School Board, during its Jan. 9 meeting, listened to a mid-year review presentation given by Division Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson about Prince Edward County Public Schools’ strategic plan.

Dr. Barbara Johnson

The strategic plan, which is set to be accomplished by 2023, has five categories: academic achievement, family and community engagement, safety and security, fiscal and operational effectiveness and human resources management.

Johnson described the plan as “a living document” and said that the plan is being examined regularly.

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According to Johnson the presentation was more of a snapshot of the full plan.

Johnson said for academic achievement, stretching from pre-K through high school, the division trained all prekindergarten teachers using the Creative Curriculum program in August.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs at the division include a robotics teams at the middle and high schools.

The Jobs for Virginia Graduates (JVG) program, Johnson said, is being implemented at the middle school to start exploration programs early. There’s also a new career exploration program at the middle school called MajorClarity, which lets students explore different career paths online, and outlines high school courses that students can take if interested in a certain career. This program would be used in place of the Virginia Education Wizard.

Johnson said there would be a professional development day scheduled in February that would educate instructors on how to work with diverse learners, such as students who learn by being hands-on, or students with learning challenges or who are gifted. Johnson said the education would allow instructors to use different teaching methods to different children in the same classroom.

Prospect District representative Elzora Stiff asked whether the program could challenge students who may be more advanced. Johnson said it is difficult for teachers to teach students at multiple levels, but said the program could help teachers strike the right balance for various students.

Johnson said the Virginia Department of School Quality is scheduled to visit the school division this semester.

In Family and Community Engagement, Johnson said that the division is seeking partnerships for the 2019-2020 school year. She said the division has 33 active partners.

Jennifer Kinne, the family and community engagement liaison, serves on eight community organization boards, including the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce and FACES Food Pantry.

Three interns are set to work with Kinne in the spring to promote PECPS.

A survey initially intended for parents for spring 2019 was moved up to fall 2019. Though Johnson said staff are still making an effort to release the survey in the spring.

The division is also evaluating its outreach programs for community members.

For safety and security, Johnson said the divisions ask staff members about concerns or issues they may see. A divisionwide committee then examines those concerns.

The free student meals program at the elementary and middle schools have seen success with more students participating, Johnson said. The division also works with the area Department of Social Services.

Johnson noted that the Virginia Tiered Systems of Support (VTSS) is continuing to be implemented at the division, which examines ways to create a rounded and supportive learning environment for students.

“That is not something that can be a second-tier issues,” Johnson said. “Because Virginia Tiered Systems of Support goes back to how are we supporting children, and it has to be given priority.”

Johnson said this is the first year the division is using a School-Wide Information System to collect data on student offenses in elementary and middle school, though said because the program is new for the division, it’s not known how the system could impact student behavior or how the school division could utilize the program in the long run.

For fiscal and operational effectiveness, Johnson said the division is piloting paperless conversion with select human resources and student filings, which include all leave requests except for transportation.

The division is also scheduling a security assessment this spring, which would involve Johnson, area law enforcement and Director of Support Services Richard Goode. The assessment would seek out vulnerable areas on campus, including lighting and transportation routes on school campus.

The middle and elementary schools are scheduled to have high definition cameras installed in February, according to the presentation.

For human resources management, Johnson said the school division installed a more user-friendly application software, which replaced the previous software that Johnson said created problems for applicants in the past.

Johnson said in order to lower costs related to health care at the division, the division is researching wellness programs for staff members and have been sending literature to staff about ways to care for their health, such as information about cold and flu seasons.